Between the pandemic and countless hours on screens, we’re not getting enough restful sleep. We go to bed wishing we can fall asleep faster and wake up dreaming of a better night’s sleep.
Stress and anxiety from modern life can stimulate the “sympathetic nervous system” (fight or flight), which can cause faster heartbeats and tense muscles. These symptoms could keep us from getting a full night’s sleep.
The good news is following a bedtime routine with relaxing activities like yoga poses can help stimulate another nervous system that helps the human body digest food and sleep better.
How Does Yoga Improve Sleep Quality?
When we experience stressors in our daily lives, the body starts preparing to deal with the situation through the “fight or flight” mode. The problem is this automatic response can cause symptoms like increased heart rates that can prevent you from catching zzz’s.
One way to offset the effects of looking at display screens is by doing a “digital detox” at least one hour before bedtime by switching off mobile devices. This can help you fall asleep faster, like cutting back on caffeine or making sure to choose the right mattress.
Yoga and Sleep
You can also add elements to your bedtime routine like yoga. This process triggers something known as the “parasympathetic nervous system” that helps the body relax.
Can all yoga help to sleep better? In a sense, but particular poses are most effective for your yoga sessions. This includes floor-based poses that you can do in your bed instead. All you’ll need is some equipment like pillows and blankets.
Yoga dates back to 2700 BC in India thousands of years later can still help people feel relaxed and comfortable today. In fact, you might even doze off before you’re done with your yoga session!
5 Yoga Poses for Quality Sleep
Yoga Pose #1: Standard Forward Fold
This is also known as “Uttanasana.” It’s effective for starting your nighttime yoga session by calming your body and mind. It provides several benefits:
- relieves tension in hamstring, hips, and calves;
- calms down the mind; and
- balances the senses.
If you start feeling some discomfort in the lower back, then keep your knees slightly bent.
Stand tall and keep your feet straight right in front of you with the heels solidly on the floor. Place your hands at the hips.
Take a deep breath then breathe out. Bend forward slowly from the hips. As the torso moves down so the hands meet the feet, keep an open space between the torso and knees.
While keeping as straight as you can, bring the fingertips or palms to the floor, either on the side or in front of your feet. If you can’t touch your feet don’t worry! Just cross the forearms and use your hands to hold the opposite elbows.
Count 6+ breaths and focus on each inhalation and exhalation. While inhaling, lift your torso slightly. Then as you exhale, release your body more into a forward bend.
Yoga Pose #2: Cat-Cow Stretch
Felines and bovines team up for this pose. Cycling through the two movements reduces tension in the back, shoulders, and torso. Pairing the movement and breathing can help calm a stressed mind.
Begin on your hands and knees while placing your wrists right under the shoulders, and the knees right under the hips. Point your fingertips at the top of the mat. Next, put your knees and shins hip-width apart. Place your head in a neutral position and look downward.
Start moving into the Cow Pose. Breathe in while dropping your stomach towards the mat. Lift the chin and chest while gazing up towards the ceiling.
Widen across the shoulder blades and bring in shoulders away from the ears.
Move into the Cat Pose. While exhaling, bring in the stomach to the spine and round the back toward the ceiling. This pose should appear like cats stretching their backs.
Release the crown of the head toward the floor, but avoid forcing the chin to the chest.
Inhale while returning to the Cow Pose. Then breathe out while returning to the Cat Pose.
Repeat 5 to 20 times. Then rest by keeping your torso upright while sitting back on the heels.
Yoga Pose #3: Waterfall
This probably isn’t surprising since seeing, hearing, and feeling a waterfall can have a calming effect. This yoga pose can help to relieve stress in your lower body, calm the central nervous system, and stretch hamstrings after sitting all day.
Lie down on your back and lift/extend the hips. Then make sure your back is stretched and long.
Bring the knees to the chest. Next, extend your legs, so they form a 90-degree angle with the body. You can bend your knees or keep them straight based on how your body feels.
Bring the arms out to your side. Close your eyes and relax while breathing deeply for 10 to 15 breaths. In order to tweak this pose so it’s more restorative yoga-focused, do it against a wall or headboard.
Yoga Pose #4: Sleeping Butterfly
Try to use this pose after the Twisted Roots pose. Bring your feet’s soles together directly in front of you and watch your knees. Keep your feet as near or far from the pelvis that feels comfortable. Sit on a pillow to raise the hips, or to support both knees.
Breathe in a strong spine upwards. Then fold forwards gently. Curve the spine and neck to move the forehead towards the feet.
Stop when it feels like you’ve had a good stretch. Stay in this position for 10 to 15 breaths, then breathe into the back.
Yoga Pose #5: Happy Baby Pose
Lie on your back. Bend the knees and reach both hands toward the big toes or outside the feet’s edges.
Pull your knees gently towards the bed. Keep your head, shoulders, and neck in this pose.
Pull your knees down towards the bed. The head, neck, and shoulders must remain down for this particular pose.
Enjoy holding the pose for five deep breaths. You can rock your body side to side if it feels good.
It’s critical for people to wind down effectively at bedtime in an era when 10% of Americans have chronic insomnia. These above-mentioned yoga poses can help you to improve your quantity and quality of sleep. Try doing these poses to sleep better anytime you feel stressed, anxious, or jittery.
Brett Armstron is a writer at ID-Mag. An enthusiast and expert when it comes to sleep products, Brett dedicates a lot of his time researching and reviewing traditional and emerging sleep brands and products – from eco-mattresses, smart pillows to cooling sleep systems, Brett has probably reviewed them all. Brett needs a good night’s sleep because he juggles a small business which he runs from home, makes sure to spend time with his daughter and also writes during his spare time.